OZY Fusion Fest hit Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield with a new level of fun and surprising mindfulness. When one thinks of a festival, it seems like a crazy, frenetic day of awesomeness. Yet, OZY Fusion Fest, created by OZY Media Founder Carlos Watson, was very relaxed. It still had a dynamite energy, but thanks to panels of intriguing political and social topics in between excellent musical acts, the day felt like I was happily “mind-grown” rather than “mind-blown”.
With festivals like, Coachella, Panorama, and Governor’s Ball, you feel like so much is happening. It a complete invasion of both enlivening and chaotic energy. Though the feeling can be exhilarating, because who has not walked out of these festivals wishing they could be cloned to go to each music act, OZY was not about tossing a series of sounds and images before you. Instead, OZY was about observing and absorbing entertainment, both musically and culturally. I have never gone to a music festival feeling like, I had toured the world or received a furthering of my education. I walked out of OZY feeling both exhilarated and smarter, which I cannot say for the other festivals.
Ilana Glazer (Broad City) Discussing Female Friendships on Television
This year was the first OZY Fusion festival, and it had some of the most intellectual philanthropists, politicians, and activists this world has to offer. From New Jersey senator Cory Booker, International Economist Dambisa Moyo, Scandal Producer/Author Judy Smith, and international superstar Will.I.Am, intriguing panels were led to discuss the roughest social issues that are currently threatening human sustainability: poverty, lack of education, global climate change, struggles for multiculturalism, etc. The interesting thing about these panels is that they felt oddly lighthearted for there heavy topics. Discussing race, class, and gender injustices do not seem like “top-picks” for casual chatter. Yet, OZY was filled with calm, cool spaces that contained colorful couches and moroccan carpets for people to sit under fans, gulp on their free water bottles or ice-cold beer, and enjoy the wisdom being spread. At one point, I realized the peculiar wonder of this festival. In between amazing musical acts like, Andra Day, Chocquibtown, and Will.I. Am, I had a lesson on how many children in America are illiterate: 1 in 4. Yes, I am as shocked as you are at both the statistic, and how I simply learned this horrible fact after a whimsical performance by Andra Day.
To go from dancing blissfully to feeling like you are sitting before a renown professor, was “mind growing”. Hence, my beginning statement, where OZY Fusion festival will make future goers feel like they spent a day expanding their minds and spirits. I both learned virtue and felt virtues. I could feel the virtue of joy on the Main stage at seeing Wyclef Jean proudly proclaim he is the Haitian Frnak Sinatra and learn compassion in the Town Square stage as Dambisa Moyo humbles the audience on the growing financial needs of the world. Having these two stages of distinct use be across form each other felt like, a delicious blend of worlds that often meet: pop culture and world culture. While most festivals focus on pop culture, OZY took the opportunity to use fun for learning. While you waited for the next act to set-up, you could go off an see The Onion do a hilarious satire on the current political atmosphere. In addition, Chef Guarnaschelli (Iron Chef) offered a free dessert and wine tasting, which was unbelievably delicious. Within 15 minutes, I felt safe, relaxed, and happy at the OZY Fusion festival. For lack of a better phrase, people were just “chill”.
Blending fun with learning is incredibly innovative for a festival, and humbling for its “goers”. Most in attendance were adults, particularly Millennials, whom did not expect to walk out more cultured or as opened to the world. Frankly, I think the OZY Fusion fesivalt is brilliant in giving people a freeing space to have a good time, but also discuss their disappointment and sadness at the craziness of our current times. From continuous mentions on the madness of Trump to heartfelt discussions on the need for income and immigration reform, OZY created the inspiring and needed atmosphere to embrace the current darkness of the times and elevate them into light.
Highlights of the Festival:
Andra Day rocked the stage and left people in tears with her hit single Rise Up. Even she acknowledged, now more than ever, people need to feel arisen.
Wyclef Jean is an amazing entertainer. His energy felt cosmic. He never stopped moving and making jokes, particularly on Donald Trump. He even premiered a new song, Hendrix, and sang it while piggyback riding a fan that had offered.
Will.I.Am was so personable on stage. He reminisced on his love and friendship for The Black Eyed Peas, and his heartfelt desire to connect more with the world. Moreover, I had not realized how philanthropic Will. I. Am is, particularly in terms of promoting universal education and the need of children to have access to basic learning tools like, textbooks. In addition, he created, that day, one of the best quotes I have ever heard, “If you can catch Pokemon, you can catch the truth”.
Chocquibtown were a burst of fire on the stage. They were like jumping flames with their fiery lyrical dominance and a natural warmth at encouraging the crowd to DANCE! Check out their newest song Nuqui (Te Quiero Para Mi).
Dambisa Moyo is an icon for me. Her book Dead Aid will make everyone wonder whether American aid to other countries is truly “charitable”. She was fascinating!
This panel was both hilarious and enlightening. Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer were kind and honest about the craziness of their newfound fame and the stress of having one of the most successful, current tv comedies: Broad City. It was very humanizing to see these women in entertainment speak on their life beyond the screen of their beloved comedy characters.
The great thing about OZY FEST is that it WILL be back next year. I extremely everyone to go to this wonderful rather innovative approach to a festival. The festival was on Saturday July 23, 2016, and you can Click Here for more information on the OZY Festival.